Willie Glenn Beckner – Corporal, United States Army

A gravestone stands in Virginia’s hills,
Among the trees, by grass and rills,
But there is nothing in that damp dark hole,
Save perhaps Willie Glenn’s soul.
Willie died as a fighting man.
Most men fought, and a few men ran.
Willie fought and stood his ground,
He returned their fire, round by round.
It is not hard to write a poem,
About a man who loved his home.
Above all else, Willie tried,
To defend this land, until he died.

He loved his home, his friends, his Flag,
The tricolor one, they burn as a rag.
The red in that Flag, could be Willie’s blood.
The blue for the tears, that would come as a flood,
Were he to know how they treat that Banner,
The desecration they use, of every manner.
Our Flag has bars of the purest white,
And stars that shine from the blue like the night.
Thousands have fought while it waved on high
Thousands more were to fight and die,
But now on the pole is an empty space.
Where thy pulled it down in foul disgrace.

Our courts have ruled it stands for naught,
So why Dear God have so many men fought?
“Its only a symbol!” the courts have said…
So why in God’s name are so many dead?

For Willie fought and Willie tried,
That Flag stands for the cause, for which Willie died!
His soul lies in an empty grave.
\Among thousands more who were just as brave.
Willie was a gunner in a fine Tank Crew,
In battle they used every trick they knew,
But an “A-T” gun turned the Tank to trash,
And all we found was a little ash.

The Supreme Court sits on the highest bench,
Then they rule on a law with a rather foul stench.
When the Marines raised our flag on that small isle,
The court must look back on them with a smile.
For they sit in their rooms, all leather bound,
And maybe pass the bottle round.
Then they vote on silly laws,
Amid many laughs and loud guffaws.
They complain that people lack respect.
What in the World can they expect?
When they tell the children in our schools,
That against burning th flag, there are no rules!
Are their windows closed and shuttered tight,
That they cannot tell a wrong from right?
They are not elected, so one could say,

You might think I rant and rave,
But across the Potomac lies Willie’s grave.
If they’d open a window and look out at the knoll,
They might see the grave with Willie’s soul!
That soul is longing to be free,
But it waits on earth for you and me,
‘Til that Flag again waves on high,
And men doff their hats and women cry!
Had Willie been born at a different time,
It would have been easy to pen this rhyme,
For Willie with Southern Gallantry,
Would have stood beside the sword of Lee.
When Lee’s sword flashed in Virginia’s air,
Willie Glenn Beckner would have been there.
For any cause that he thought was just,
Willie felt that fight he must,
But the Confederate Flag was not the one,
For which Willie died in the German sun.
In Arlington where Willie’s soul lies
Lee’s home is framed by Virginia’s skies.
His soul lies in his homeland’s sod,
It would like to move up and join his God.
So unlock those windows, no need to cry.
Just put that Flag back up on high,
Then Willie’s soul can leave that grave,
And join the others whose lives they gave,
To watch “OLD GLORY” flash in the sun,
As a tribute to each gallant son!

Willie Glenn Beckner of Roanoke Virginia, was killed instantly on the 28th day of March 1945. He was the gunner in my Tank, which was the first Medium Tank in Simpson’s Ninth Arny to cross the Rhine. God allowed me to escape. Willie has a Memorial Headstone in Arlington National Cemetery. There were no remains of Willie Glenn or “Butch” as he was called, due to his diminutive stature.

Due to his Mother’s instructions to her God he was cremated. This God did with the aid of the Tank which burned, and smoldered for two days. On “Butch’s” stone is carved “SILVER STAR”, at that time the third highest medal. On the back of the medal is inscribed “FOR GALLANTRY IN ACTION”, The very words GALLANTRY and VIRGINIAN must surely be synonomous.

Soon all memories of Willie Glenn will be relegated to oblivion!  I will always wonder if Roanoke remembers Willie Glenn or his Mother, Leora, who spent fifty-one years wondering what her only child might have done in life or what he might have achieved!

His Mother (aged 96) still lives in Roanoke, Virginia (note she died on 5 August 1992 in West Virginia). in the Shenandoah Valley, under the shadows of Willie’s beloved BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS. Soon all memories of the gallant fighting man will be relegated to oblivion! His stone is very near my wife’s. Standing at her grave you can look down the hill at it. I imagine they are taking care of each other. He will be 20 years of age forever!  Dick Kemp

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment